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Action and Reaction

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As ever at Training for Trees we are following the example of the nature, reacting, adapting and evolving within a whole new world that is emerging.

As I am writing this, the pandemic continues and looks like it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future, borders open, borders In nature as with trees in particular every action causes a reaction and usually following on from natural disasters – such as fire, flood, pest and disease – after a while the reactive forces develop and adapt and you will begin to see signs of recovery everywhere in nature and the environment.

We need to follow the examples of trees and nature and develop some sound reactions to our actions, for example to practise social distancing and good hygiene practices, be responsible for our actions and consider our environment.

As I have always maintained, those of us that are lucky enough to be involved in the Arboricultural industry are usually well placed to react and adapt and usually end up being extremely busy in times of natural disasters as we are usually required to be in the thick of things – like storm clean-up – usually resulting in even more demand for qualified and competent operators in the rural industries both at the trade and the diploma levels.

The world is changing and instead of just having to be good at using dangerous machinery and lifting heavy things we now also have to be able to integrate with the digital revolution although, however we decide to integrate our world with digitisation, we will always need to have a plan to work safely in the practical environment.

I truly believe that although we can mechanise and digitalise many facets of our industry, there will always be a need for skilled manual labour.

We also need to be able to, “touch trees” as was the catchphrase used by the late and great Dr Alex Shigo. We have a huge responsibility to be responsible for our actions and the reactions that we can create within the course of our work.

“I truly believe that although we can mechanise and digitalise many facets of our industry, there will always be a need for skilled manual labour.”

The arboricultural industry has become well respected and established, and is recognised throughout the world as a highly sought after skilled trade and is also a major provider of employment.


One of the biggest causes of action and reaction within trees is the result of pruning operations pruning work requires an essential skill set to be developed by operators and takes a lot of care and extensive understanding of how a tree works along with many hours of practice to perfect the required skills and ability to carry out high quality pruning work.

Most of you will be aware it is a legal requirement that any personal protective clothing, machinery tools and equipment used in the workplace conforms to the relevant Australian Standards, is fit for purpose, in good working order and well maintained.

When you complete a pruning job you are leaving your mark on every final cut also the canopy shape and form for all to see and, as trees are generally major structures, the finished work is highly visible and will be seen by a lot of people.

Careless or misguided pruning techniques cause irreversible damage to the subject tree in the form of scars along the branches, coat hanger like stubs, large flush cuts or wrongly angled branch collar pruning cuts which collectively cause future problems for the tree such as causing unnecessary stress and leaving the tree open to secondary infection and future problems.

Consideration must also be given to choosing the right time of year to carry out the works. As some species react adversely to being pruned at the wrong times, this can also affect flower/fruit production.

Generally any large scale pruning work is usually best carried out during the winter months when the trees are in their dormant stage.

Prior to commencing any pruning operation be aware of any legal and environmental restraints such as tree protection legislation and avoid disturbing any nesting birds or wildlife. Follow the guidance of industry standards.

Currently, the Australian standard that sets out the minimum requirements that are required to achieve correct pruning results is called AS4373 Pruning of amenity trees (2007).

When pruning tools are selected care should be taken to ensure they are sharp and that good quality hand tools such as hand saws, pole saws, secateurs and pruning shears that have a bypass action of the blades. Ensure all tools are selected and maintained correctly.

Always plan the sequence of operation and always consider the outcomes of your actions before cutting. As the old saying goes you can always take more off but you can’t put it back on!

Make sure that access methods into and around the tree are also considered as well as how the tree will look when the work is completed.

Ropes passing through unprotected branch crotches can cause major bark and cambium abrasion that may not be apparent until well after the pruning works are carried out. Also, spikes must not be used for accessing or working on trees that are being pruned.

“The secret of a good pruning job is to make sure that the finished work retains the natural form of the tree and it looks like you were never there.”

The tree to be pruned must be taken into consideration including factors such as the species, normal natural growth habits and shapes, its overall condition and structure, the reason for carrying out the pruning and the required outcome for the work.

Tools and equipment must be selected that are appropriate to the task and should be of good quality, clean, sharp and well maintained. Remember that the secret of a good pruning job is to make sure that the finished work retains the natural form of the tree and it looks like you were never there whilst achieving the aim of the pruning works overall.

Pruning works in some ways are a bit like going for a haircut, in most cases you just want to remove the bulk but don’t want to change the style and shape and you still want your friends to recognise you when it’s finished.

Good pruning should be carried out in the same fashion to reduce the size thin and shape endeavouring to achieve a smaller, neater version of what you started with.

Make sure that you are able to correctly identify the branch bark ridge and that the final cuts are made to the outside edge of the branch collar and that the branch is removed without damage, rips or splits to the surrounding bark and cambium layers.

Once you have decided on the need to prune, you should consider the fact that in most cases you are beginning a pruning regime as an ongoing project. You need to remember that pruning in some species causes vigorous regrowth throughout the canopy which, if not attended to on a regular basis, can result in branch failure due to weak attachment points.

The regrowth will also add to the density of the tree canopy and can cause a sail effect presenting greater wind resistance throughout the canopy which may contribute to limb or total tree failure in high winds.

Tree owners will need to be advised that future ongoing inspection, care and maintenance work will need to be carried out on a regular basis.

This will also ensure that you have regular contact with your clients as well as a supply of regular ongoing maintenance work.

Training Packages

Currently industry best practice and industry standards are based around industry training packages and units of competency.

The training packages contain a specific range of competency units and rules for completing a qualification, these training packages are managed under the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) and as explained in an earlier article range from level one to advanced diploma levels.

As a working Arborist, qualifications should be attained at a minimum of AQF level III to work unsupervised.

Making the effort and spending the time to study and achieve the relevant arboricultural qualifications will lead you on a lifelong journey in one of the most diverse industries I know and build you a skill base that once all the travel restrictions are lifted you will be able to use your skills anywhere in the world.

To be able to be considered a qualified person within the arboricultural industry the general requirements are that you will complete a period of training and assessment based in both the practical workplace environment and the classroom. The minimum industry requirement to enable you to be officially recognised as a qualified arborist is to attain the qualification AHC30816 Certificate III in Arboriculture. This qualification is currently classified within Australian Standard definitions and accepted throughout Australia as the minimum industry standard requirement to be able to be considered as a trade level qualified working arborist.

The journey to achieve the Certificate III in arboriculture qualification currently involves the completion of 23 industry endorsed units of competency that have been designed according to industry requirements and composed engineered checked and industry approved.

Once you have achieved the Certificate III in Arboriculture or want to consolidate and recognise your industry experience, the next step would be to continue your progression within the arboricultural industry and to follow the pathway from trade level working arborist and take it to the next level by undertaking the AHC50516 Diploma of Arboriculture.

To achieve the Diploma of Arboriculture you will begin a journey that will see you develop and gain an intimate and considerable working tree knowledge, you will be educated through a combination of online and face-to-face training and assessment methods resulting in your successful completion of 10 nationally recognised industry endorsed units of competency that make up the Diploma of Arboriculture.

To consider and comply with the broad expectations of the arboriculture industry and the emphasis on training and standards and the requirements of the Diploma of Arboriculture our students follow a process that covers the following points:

  • Introduction into the workings of a tree with its anatomy and physiology explained and explored. Specification and planting of new trees
  • Introduction and overview of legislation and compliance requirements
  • Extensive Visual tree assessment and risk management
  • Disease and decay diagnosis and management
  • Looking after trees on development sites

Preparation And Submission Of Quality Reports For Clients And Management

Achieving your Diploma will enable you to achieve recognition for one of the highest most useful and most recognised arboricultural qualifications within the arboricultural industry and enable you to progress in your career in arboriculture as a business owner, lead arborist, tree officer arboricultural manager or consulting arborist.

To all of the employers out there, remember new workers don’t grow on trees unfortunately, but if you want to have reliable professional staff you have to be prepared to invest in them.

As your workers trainees or apprentices are working their way through the training process they will steadily begin to repay your investment in their future by becoming more useful and able to operate more efficiently within your company.

If your newly qualified apprentice decides to leave and move on once they are qualified, then at least you will have had some return on your investment as they were becoming more useful to you while they were progressing with their training and, if you get the balance right, then there will always be upcoming apprentices that will keep the cycle flowing giving you access to staff that already know your business and systems that will continue to provide a return on the investment you have made in them.

“Training is as important as the servicing of vehicles and machinery, after all, workers are the machinery that you run and need to maintain to enable the smooth operation of your business”.

“Any tree particularly if it is lucky enough to be under the supervision of a TFT qualified arborist will be a very happy tree indeed”. Training for Trees is a registered training organisation (RTO).

We are completely independent and are not auspiced, attached to or operating underthe direction or licence of any other RTO or parent company.

This means we are personally able look after our students and employers at every step of their journey and beyond. “It has been proven that independent training and assessment increases staff retention safety awareness productivity and efficiency.”

Remember to schedule in regular refresher and update training sessions.

If you want to be officially classified as a qualified arborist you will need to complete the appropriate level of qualification:

  • Tree worker or climbing Arborist AHC30816 Certificate III in arboriculture
  • Consulting Arborist AHC50516 Diploma of arboriculture

“Safety Rules”

Check out your eligibility for funding. Enrol now for the next intake Certificate III Arboriculture and Diploma, chainsaw courses (all levels), EWP Licence, First Aid, Working at heights, Chipper, Polesaw and AC/DC.

Contact us for your qualifications, short courses VOC, RPL and refresher training. Train with us and leaf qualified. See our website www.trainingfortrees.com.au for details or email [email protected]

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